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Humanitarian Crisis Emerges in Southern Yemen

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Battles in Southern Yemen between the government and suspected Al Qaeda militants are causing a humanitarian crisis. Thousands have fled the fighting in the Abyan governorate.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says over 2,000 families have sought refuge in 33 schools in the southern port city of Aden. WFP has surveyed the situation there and found that 90 percent of those displaced are entirely dependent on the host community for food needs.

WFP says more than half of those surveyed left their homes “without taking their own assets as well as their clothes.”

Others sold their assets to pay for transportation to escape the fighting. Some of the displaced moved in with relatives and friends in Aden only to find that this overtaxed the resources of their hosts.The only alternative then was to move to one of the displacement centers.

The needs are great. The WFP survey found that clothes, food rations, pediatric milk and cold potable water, mattresses, bed sheets, sanitary pads, towels, soaps, and washing powder were all needed. Some of the displaced require medical and psychological care.

There is also a lack of sanitation services in 50 percent of the schools hosting the displaced.

WFP also noted a “[w]eakness in coordination between UN/NGOs, local government authorities & civil society organizations to identify emergency needs by each actor in order to facilitate timely provision of humanitarian assistance to all genuine/vulnerable IDPs and enable all to avoid duplication in assistance delivery.”

This coordination will need to improve quickly, especially as more people flee to Aden as the fighting in Southern Yemen escalates.

The WFP report recommends developing several centers to host the displaced, and intensive screening for health issues and child nutrition levels.

Humanitarian needs exist throughout Yemen as the political unrest has driven up food prices. Even before the unrest unfolded, hunger and malnutrition rates were high in the country. The World Food Programme, UNICEF, and other agencies are short on funding to carry out their relief missions.

People are rallying to help organize relief, however. The Yemen Peace Project has a blog with information on ways to help those displaced in Southern Yemen.

In light of yesterday’s efforts in Congress to reduce funding for the Food for Peace program, a petition to support the WFP hunger relief throughout Yemen is particularly timely.

Photo: France24

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About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.